FREE Summer Outings in The Triangle

Summer is almost officially here, and the Triangle is already full of events for all ages. While there are plenty of great events throughout these warmer months, many will put a sizeable dent in your wallet. But, it is possible to enjoy what the Triangle has to offer without breaking the bank.

Here are 5 Summer outings that cost little to nothing.

1. Have a Picnic at RDU

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport has an Observation Park that overlooks the primary runways and is free to the public. With a covered overhang, multiple picnic benches, and even an airport-themed playground, it’s a great spot to enjoy a morning or afternoon. Pack your favorite snacks, watch numerous jets takeoff or land, and listen to the pilot to tower communications. Instead of bringing your own food, for a couple bucks you can visit RDU’s café or the various other restaurants located inside and outside of the terminals.

Alternatively, you can visit the Triangle North Executive Airport in Louisburg. As RDU’s back-up runway, this charming airport typically has interesting or historic planes on display. Visitors can also watch parachute jumpers on weekend mornings from different picnic table locations. Just call ahead to make sure the weather is acceptable enough for viewing.

2. Take the Little Ones to Cabela’s

While the Triangle is home to many wonderful lakes and parks that are free to access (such as Falls or Jordan Lake, William B. Umstead, Lake Crabtree, etc.), they might not be ideal destinations during Summer rain storm. However, you can still enjoy a nature-filled day at Cabela’s in Garner. If you’re a little tired of seeing the same displays at the North Carolina Musuem of Natural Sciences, this is a great alternative.

The 105,000 sq.ft. store is home to a variety of outdoor equipment, and children can have fun identifying all of the different “museum-quality wildlife displays” with interactive games. There’s also a large aquarium with fish native to North Carolina, and a sandwich deli that features some of best fudge around. The store also hosts public events on the weekends that range from family activities to educational classes covering wildlife safety or conservation.

3. Tour the State Capitol Building

Though it hasn’t been used for quite some time as North Carolina’s official chambers, the State Capitol in downtown Raleigh offers fascinating group or self-guided tours on Saturdays; both of which are free and take roughly an hour. You can view the old House and Senate chambers that were utilized up until about the 1960s, gaze up at the beautiful rotunda, and discover how, why, and when the building was constructed. A tour can be a good escape from the heat as well!

4. Be A Tourist in Your Own City

Speaking of tours, no matter what city you’re in, each location features historic signs throughout the downtown areas. Furthermore, each city has specific historic sights, such as notable homes, parks, or businesses. Though you can create your own walking tour for free, it may be beneficial to explore guided group tours, many of which occur on a mid-century trolley with low ticket pricing. The research universities of the Triangle also include tours throughout the Summer, revealing interesting historic insights that many students don’t even know.

5. Admire Ancient and Modern Art

While many folks throughout North Carolina praise the beautiful pieces in the North Carolina Museum of Art, or NCMA, many are unaware of the smaller art museums. UNC Chapel Hill is home to the Ackland Art Museum, which features a variety of European, African, and American pieces. For local to international contemporary artists, consider visiting the CAM Museum in downtown Raleigh. This location frequently hosts new exhibits, so there’s always something new and exciting to observe.

There is a plethora of more free activities throughout the Triangle, most of which are free or cost very little. You can visit Triangle On The Cheap for various, up-to-date outings happening nearly everyday around you. Regardless of what you choose, remember a water bottle and lots of sunscreen to stay safe in this tough Summer weather!

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